Ugh. Vine. (And why, of course)
I know that people get excited when they see a new social network that looks promising. I really can’t say I do. I remember when Google Plus first came to fruition and everybody began on their “Facebook Killer” tangent and were so quick to jump ship, only to abandon Plus several months later. Since then, any new network coming up has been met with a bit of doubt. For me, that doubt is in Vine.
To start, Vine is a really, really great idea. People’s attention spans do work better when it comes to things like gifs, and videos just have an awkward bit of overhead even in 2013. It requires a fair amount of commitment mentally to click that play button regardless of context. A few years ago, animated gifs came back to bless our short-mindedness and to make our mundanes viral. And I think Twitter saw the marketing potential. The idea behind Vine is something like gifs 2.0. What MNG could have been (since defunct). That people wanted to make looping clips and commit to the trouble of composing and working with that context. That capturing six seconds of video could really leave an impression on a moment. On an emotion.
I’d say that Twitter accomplished what they wanted. But I’m still… disappointed with Vine. I get on there looking for something really creative - something really genuine - and what do I find? I find lots of videos of people recording their faces, people doing stupid acts in the name of “comedy” (breaking an egg in your face, really?), people throwing hot dogs at ceiling fans, people acting (very poorly), and a poorly maintained tag system that doesn’t really help you discover quality content and producers. I also find nudity, jokes in rather poor taste, and typical sex appeal in Vine posts. It’s not that these things don’t have a place on the internet - it’s just they belong in a box, and not with the rest of the “popular content” in a network. If I had kids, I wouldn’t want them on Vine, lest they see the video of that guy pissing off a porch.
I really wanted to see the gif really reinvented. The 256 color palette is very limiting, and while I love impressionist artwork, seeing video clips in their actual quality would be inspiring. Gifs don’t have proper video compression techniques like tried-and-true projects like x264 have. Gifs don’t have a control mechanism. Gifs don’t load very gracefully sometimes. Vine tried to solve some of these issues, and I think the encoding format is a wonderful improvement for the web. But I can’t create Vine clips from my cross-country trip. I can’t pull in footage from proper equipment. I can’t make a more seamless loop. I can’t bring what is existing high-quality content to stand in this network as catalyst - nor can others.
I’m still misunderstanding what Vine is and what it will be. I’m hoping they open the platform to allow for past content to be made into clips. I hope they fix the tags system. I hope they put the nudity and sexual content in a box. I hope they highlight more of the few great nature-related clips. I hope that they discourage their users from bad acting and stupidity in the name of likes. I hope that some people will do what Pilgramers did on Instagram for Vine.
I hope Vine can create a high-quality network like Instagram can so often be. They have the right concept, the right mechanics. It’s just a few details that need repair.
But until then? Long live the gif!